Baker-Finch; Nicklaus’ Sons; Others Earn Exemptions for BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs Golf Tournament
Professional golfers Ian Baker-Finch, Michael Beard, Tim Conley, Brian Hull, Pat McGowan, Bryce Molder, Kevin Pendley, Lee Porter and Conrad Ray have been awarded exemptions to participate in this year’s BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs golf tournament. The tournament will be played April 29-May 2, 2004, at Cliffs Valley and The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards.
Legendary golfers Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player will compete in the tournament as professionals. Three of Nicklaus’ sons – Jackie II, Gary and Michael – were also granted exemptions to play in the tournament. Nicklaus’ son, Steve, and Player’s son, Wayne, will compete as celebrities.
Baker-Finch, winner of the 1991 British Open, has been covering golf as a commentator for ABC Sports since 1997. He recorded two wins on the PGA TOUR and eight international victories during his professional career. Baker-Finch currently resides with his family in North Palm Beach, Fla. Besides his golf analyst duties, he designs golf courses, hosts numerous corporate outings and plays select PGA TOUR events.
Beard is in his rookie season on the Nationwide Tour out of Pepperdine University, where he was an All-American in 2000 and 2002. His father, Frank, was an 11-time winner on the PGA TOUR, was a member of two Ryder Cup teams and led the 1969 money list.
Conley turned pro in 1981. He was a member of the PGA TOUR in 1993 and 1998, and played on the Nationwide Tour last year and from 1994-2000. He has two wins on the Nationwide Tour – the 1993 Knoxville Open and the 1996 Gateway Classic. His best finish on the PGA TOUR came in 1998 when he finished fifth in the FedEx St. Jude Classic.
Hull, who is sponsored by Kevin Costner on the Nationwide Tour, graduated from the University of Southern California in 1997 where he was a two time All-American. He turned pro the same year. Hull has been a member of the Nationwide Tour since 2001. He and Costner won the pro/celebrity portion of the tournament in 2001. Hull resides in La Canada, Calif.
Former PGA TOUR player McGowan currently is an instructor at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C. He and wife, Bonnie, play a major role in the day-to-day operations of this on-site school. Bonnie is the daughter of trailblazer Peggy Kirk Bell, a charter member of the LPGA and master instructor who started the school. McGowan is a three-time runner-up on the PGA TOUR, finishing second in the 1978 Canadian Open and fourth in the 1983 PGA Championship.
Molder was a featured golfer on the PGA TOUR in 2002 where he competed in 22 events, earning one top-10 finish and four, top-25 finishes. The Georgia Tech graduate turned pro in 2001 and scored his best PGA TOUR finish that year with a third-place showing at the Reno-Tahoe Open. Of the four Nationwide Tour events he participated in 2002, Molder scored two, top-10 finishes and a second-place finish at the Jacob’s Creek Open Championship. Molder was a first team All-American at Georgia Tech joining former alums David Duval, Phil Mickelson and Gary Hallberg as the only four to be so honored. He was named the Jack Nicklaus Player of the Year in 1998 and 2001, was a three-time ACC Player of the Year (1998-2001) and was ACC Rookie of the Year in 1998. Molder and his amateur partner Dan O’Connell won the Pro-Am portion of the 2002 BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs tournament.
Pendley, from nearby Greenwood, S.C., graduated from Winthrop University in 1998. He turned pro the same year, and has been a member of the Nationwide Tour in 2000, ’01 and ’03. His best finish came in 2001 when he finished tied for fourth in the Inland Empire Open. Last year, his best finish came at the Dayton Open where he tied for sixth.
Porter, from Greensboro, N.C., had his best finish last year when he tied for 12th at the Chitimacha Louisiana Open. He has finished tied for second, three times on the Nationwide Tour, and finished third in the 1998 Greater Vancouver Open on the PGA TOUR. He made the cut in 14 of 32 PGA TOUR events in 2002. Since turning pro in 1989, Porter has earned over $1 million in career earnings.
Ray, who currently lives in Hilton Head, S.C., was a member of Stanford’s national championship team in 1994 and served as captain of the Cardinal golf team in 1997. He has played on the Nationwide Tour since 1999. He has four top-10 finishes in his Nationwide Tour career, with his best finish coming in 2001 at the Tri-Cities Open.
The BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs will be played April 29-May 2, 2004 at Cliffs Valley and The Cliffs at Keowee Vineyards courses, where amateurs and celebrities will be grouped with Nationwide Tour professionals. All four rounds will be televised live by The Golf Channel.
The tournament is one of the premier events on the Nationwide Tour and is the only event that features professionals paired with an amateur/celebrity partner in a two-day better-ball competition. The professional winner of the overall 72-hole event will take home $108,000 from the total purse of $600,000, while the amateurs/celebrities will compete for individual prizes and cash donations to the charity of their choice out of the beneficiaries selected by South Carolina Charities, Inc.
General Admission tickets for the 2004 BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs can be purchased for $20 through one of the 29 selected charities or by calling (864) 297-1660. Each of the 29 charities will receive $15 (75%) back from every $20 general admission ticket that it sells. In order for the charities to receive proceeds, tickets much be purchased directly from them. Children 14 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Corporate sponsorships and ticket packages that include VIP and Clubhouse tickets can also be purchased by calling (864) 297-1660.
The first three tournaments have raised over $1.65 million for charity.
For more information on the BMW Charity Pro-Am at The Cliffs golf tournament or sponsorship opportunities call (864) 297-1660 or visit the tournament’s website at www.bmwcharitygolf.com.
Owned and operated by the PGA TOUR, the Nationwide Tour is in its 15th season, its second with Nationwide serving as the umbrella sponsor. The 2004 season will consist of 31 events played in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Panama. Purses will exceed $15.8 million this year. The Top 20 money winners on the season will automatically earn playing privileges on the PGA TOUR for 2005. The Tour is headquartered in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL, and its web site is www.pgatour.com.